11 March 2013

The gun of self defence?

How do you comment on American gun law if you are not American? On the whole I think it may be best if you don't, so instead here is something gun-related, in a way. Hopefully it will amuse but also provoke thought, though not necessarily pertaining to guns.

Armoured Roman legionaries
March's Synchroblog is on the subject of guns, specifically how we think and act as followers of Jesus.

There's a list of all the contributions at the bottom of this article. Here's the opening statement from the Synchroblog website...

Like many hot political topics, the issue of gun control is a big one for Christians. People are all over the place on the issue–from passionate pacifists to dedicated NRA members.

Well, I don't know about that. You see I live in the United Kingdom where we have very strict gun control. Except in Northern Ireland, even the police are not allowed to carry arms, never mind the general public. Yes, the police do have stocks of arms and ammunition but they cannot take them onto the streets except in cases of an emergency such as an armed siege, a shooting incident, or a terrorist attack.

Opinion in the UK - Gun laws are not hotly debated here. Public opinion is strongly against the possession of firearms. The annual rate of death by shooting is 0.07 per 100 000 of the population, about forty times lower than in the USA. Police deaths by gunshot are also extremely rare.

So if I'm asked whether gun control works I'd have to say, 'Yes, it does'. At any rate it does for us in Britain. I'm simply not qualified to enter the US debate, but I do enjoy posting on the synchroblog. So in amongst all your serious discussions on gun control I have decided to have a little fun. I hope you'll forgive me because it is a serious matter, I realise that (and I will read the other synchroblog contributions). But hey, it's good to lighten up a little sometimes.

Even if I felt it was acceptable to give an uninvited foreign opinion (and I don't), what could I add to the debate? Nothing, really. You guys will have to work it out for yourselves, I'm not going to comment. Of course, if the presidential system doesn't work out for you there's always the possibility of inviting the Queen to take you back as her subjects. Then you'd have to hand in your weapons.

The full armour - But, I had a thought. How would it be if we looked at the full armour of Elohim and added a gun - just experimentally? What would that look like?

Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled round your waist, with the vestplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of the Almighty, and the gun of self defence. (Ephesians 6:14-17, NSDV)

NSDV? Oh, sorry, that's the New Self Defence Version of the Holy Bible. It's not widely available so I quoted from it for you. It's mostly quite similar to the NIV (UK) version.

So let's do a Bible study.

Useful and defensive - Note that the belt and the footwear are purely for practical purposes. The belt represents truth and just as truth supports useful arguments, so the belt also supports useful devices. It's a veritable military tool-belt for holding all sorts of special equipment - night sight goggles, radio, ammo for the gun of self defence, that sort of thing.

The vestplate and the helmet are defensive and fixed. In other words they are worn and don't need to be held. Naturally it will be a bulletproof vestplate, that is very important.

The shield is also defensive but is strapped to the forearm so that it can be readily positioned between you and any incoming flaming arrows. It doesn't need to be bulletproof, just flaming arrowproof.

That just leaves us with the sword and the gun. They are offensive in nature and therefore fundamentally different from the defensive items we've considered so far.

Offensive? - The sword is the sword of the Spirit. That is to say it is the sword of the Spirit of Christ. Notice that it is only good for close work. You need to be close enough to the enemy to love them. The Spirit of Christ (the Holy Spirit) provides an extraordinary advantage in close combat. He is capable of disarming the opposition by cutting them down with love, joy and peace, also patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self control and self defence. No. Hang on. Let me check my notes...

Oh yes, that's it. Self control is from the Spirit, but not self defence. Sorry, slight slip on my part. I was a little ahead of myself.

And so we come to the gun of self defence. Notice that all of the other parts of the armour, including the sword, are provided by the kingdom for your personal use. As soldiers of Christ you may (and should) take advantage of all of them, they are free of charge, part of the standard kit, and guaranteed to work when needed. Using these you will be kept safe and enabled to advance ever further against the enemy - even if he uses flaming arrows.

But the gun of self defence you must provide yourself. It wasn't available two thousand years ago when the armour was designed and issued. But now many believers have found that defending themselves with this long distance weapon enables them to make a lot of noise, and never need to bring the sword of the Spirit into play.

Some problems - There do seem to be some disadvantages, however. For a start, it's incredibly easy to shoot yourself in the foot. (A safety catch is provided. Use it!) And some have said that self defence is wrong, that instead we should let Papa defend us. Another common issue is getting a flaming arrow in the chest while busy reloading the gun of self defence. The bulletproof vestplate can't stop those, you need to hold the shield of faith in the right place to be safe from flaming arrows. It's tricky to manouvre the shield while rummaging for ammo and loading the gun.

Some kingdom soldiers are beginning to abandon the gun of self defence again and they do actually seem to be doing better that way. Some have even taken to going the extra mile when asked. Some have been experimenting with blessing the people that oppose them. And a few have been seen offering their shirt when only their cloak had been demanded. It's a bit odd. Could it be said to be a cloak and dagger form of warfare? No, I suppose it can't really, can it? It's more cloak and shirt warfare.

See the questions below for some thoughts on self defence and the church.

Questions:

  • Forget the gun, what about self defence? Has there been too much self and too much defence in church life?
  • How might less of me and more vulnerability to others transform church?
  • And how might less of me and more vulnerability transform sharing the good news?
  • Are there things you could do in your own life that would be like putting down the gun of self defence and depending only on the other items of armour?

See also:


Synchroblog links:

4 comments:

  1. Thanks for the reminder that we are called to self CONTROL, not self defense. I love your first question: Has there been too much self and too much defense in church life? And your last paragraph, while ironic and a bit funny, leaves plenty to think about. Sad that it would be a novel experiment to think of blessing those that oppose us.

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  2. Chris, I love your post. It was both humorous and thought provoking. And kudos to you for finding a creative way to enter the conversation!

    I definitely think the church here in the U.S. has too much "self" and too much "defense" in it (in general). I always find it sad to see Christians more caught up in fighting for "their rights" rather than fighting for the rights of others ... especially others that are marginalized or oppressed and in the minority.

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  3. Thanks Liz, I did my best to be funny and serious at the same time. Maybe it worked!

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  4. Thank you Carol. Liz made some of the same points after you had commented. I agree with you both.


    I took a more thorough look at your blog a few days ago and I'm impressed by what you've been writing. I left a private post on your Google+ profile, it you haven't already seen it you might like to read it.

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